Why American Health Care is So Expensive

[Private] Health Spending as share of GDP

This video by Vox and Ezra Klein explains why American health care is so expensive, and it does so simply and effectively. It mentions each of the top issues I write about here at Modern Health Talk, including the political influence of a medical cartel that profits from treating illness and injury with a fee-for-service business model. Read More …

Inequality, Healthcare and the Economy

Watch how DACA effects a national Teacher of the Year.As Congress votes on its tax bill [now passed], I’m republishing this article to again focus on the issue of inequality, because this tax bill is not the “incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans” that President Trump promised. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 60% of the nation will pay more taxes as health insurance rates spike, 13 million Americans lose all health insurance, and the top 1% gets over 80% of the benefit. This sure seems more like a massive tax scam than tax relief for the middle class, and it will exacerbate the growing wealth gap. (See bill analysis below).

The chart below shows how “trickle down” economics has worked over the last 40 years. The U.S. now has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world. But to really understand wealth inequality, read the stats and watch the videos in this article. Read More …

CES 2018 Recap

CES softDo we still need CES? (TheNextWeb)

I COMMENTED… Twenty years ago I predicted the demise of COMDEX & CES, but it keeps growing in size albeit slowly and with less importance. I first noticed the trend while still working at IBM, where I attended each year as a market analyst and strategist. The trigger for me was “Internet Time” — the shortening of product development cycles from a few years from concept-to-launch to just a few months. That shortened timeframe caused companies to rely on the Internet to launch new products and create market demand. They no longer needed to rely on CES and print news, or at least less so.

Apple was one of the first to abandon CES and promote its products instead at its own show – MacWorld.  Compaq Computer was next to pull out. They realized it was cheaper to fly corporate decision makers to its Houston HQ for a days-long private event and wine & dine them and actually close deals. Contrast that with the high cost of rising above the CES clutter and getting noticed on the show floor – briefly, with just 2-5 minutes of average face-time.

And then there was Microsoft – long a staple of CES with one of the largest exhibits. As an IBMer promoting the OS/2 operating system against Windows, I saw lots of efficiency in how Microsoft used CES, but I wasn’t surprised when they pulled out too. The handwriting was on the wall.

Pulling out of CES didn’t mean big companies no longer attended; they just didn’t have the same presence on the show floor. Those big flashy demos often shifted to smaller and focused ones in private suites off the show floor or in a nearby hotel where they could host news media and corporate executives and devote more time to selling to them.

That was well over a decade ago, but even now it’s important for big companies to attend CES, even if it’s just for meetings with key customers, potential partners, and news media, or to evaluate trends and scope out new competition. After retiring from IBM in 1999, I still attend CES for years on my own dime as a market analyst and digital home consultant, for that very purpose. But these days I’m able to keep up with the industry without the travel cost, and from the comfort of my home office, where I can watch video demos and read & critique articles written by others – like the collection compiled below. Read More …

Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. (Republished after CES 2018 with new images and reference articles.) Read More …

Corporate Behavior and Rising Health Care Costs

I’m republishing this article because of a new 6-part NETFLIX documentary, “Dirty Money,” which is about global greed and corruption. Watch the trailer at the bottom.

If healthcare corporations and insurance companies are persons, as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision says, then what sort of persons are they?

Click the image to watch

As presented in this award-winning documentary, which you can watch below, the operational principles and legal requirement of a corporation to serve shareholder investment interests, give it a highly anti-social “personality.” Corporations are inherently self-interested (profit-driven), making them often amoral, callous and deceitful, even breaching social and legal standards to get their way. And while they can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism, corporations don’t suffer from guilt and can’t be jailed. In short, modern corporations behave like a psychopath, and they use their political clout to avoid regulation and reform.

Free-market capitalism is no longer played on a level playing field, even in healthcare, because large corporations unfortunately invest in lawyers and paid lobbyists to gain political influence and craft laws in their favor. They can effectively “buy” elections with unlimited funds directed in secret to political action committees. Read More …

What is Functional Medicine? Isn’t Modern Healthcare more Profitable?

3-legged stoolI first encountered the term Functional Medicine a few years ago during a lecture by Dr. Lane Sebring at a World Future Society dinner. In keeping with the focus of this organization, he titled his talk The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine, which links to my notes and a video of his 71-min lecture.

Dr. Sebring looked to anthropology to understand why, even with modern medicine, many of our diseases today didn’t even exist about a century ago when Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease were almost unknown and Cancer was rare, not even making the top 10 as a cause of death.

The more he looked into the cause of illness, the more he became disillusioned and frustrated with modern healthcare, what he learned in medical school, and the traditional practice of providing “sick care” and just another pill in a “disease management” system that profits from illness. To focus his practice on health & wellness, he became an expert in Functional Medicine, which he describes as a form of evolutionary, integrative, natural, holistic, or alternative medicine, as opposed to the allopathic doctors and practitioners who rely on modern approaches that emphasize prescription drugs. Sebring chose to instead focus on homeopathic, or empiric medicine. But before reading on, watch this video about the history of modern medicine and how it came about. Read More …

Don’t Kill the Open Internet

Net Neutrality keeps Internet Open

This really is about healthcare, believe me. It’s also about free speech, commerce, education, employment, and the open Internet, so read on.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to gut Net Neutrality consumer protections and kill open Internet competition as a result. That’s not surprising since he formerly worked as an attorney for Verizon Communications, but there are many issues that are not well understood, and not being discussed.

I am so bothered by this that I sent personal notes to the five FCC Commissioners, shared my Net Neutrality perspectives, and urge them NOT to gut Net Neutrality.

Read More …

Shouldn’t Health be Primary

Health is PrimaryAmerica’s Family Physicians are promoting Health is Primary, a communications campaign that reflects the values of family medicine, puts patients at the center of their care, and aims to improve the health of all Americans, as well as costs. The Washington Post last week carried their sponsored article about A Health Care Solution We Can’t Afford to Ignore: PRIMARY CARE.

These physicians are apparently frustrated by Congress and partisan politics that is so toxic to our healthcare system, and our health. The United States is known to spend twice as much per capita as other advanced nations on healthcare, but with worse outcomes, so I’m happy to see this organization expand the debate beyond just how to PAY for care and who bears the burden. I’m glad to see their goal of actually improving wellness and care delivery, because even Benjamin Franklin knew that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that was two centuries ago. Read More …

Prepare for the Time Change

Sleepy Pumpkin

Prepare for the Time Change
that comes after Halloween

The biannual shift between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time is like a society-imposed jet lag that can throw off your body clock and disrupt your sleep patterns. In the Spring we set our clocks forward overnight and thus lose an hour of sleep, and in the Fall we have the opportunity to gain an hour of sleep.

It’s Confusing.

Read More …

Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege?

Is health care a right or a privilege?

It’s easy to ask, “Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege,” but to answer the question we must dig deep into our souls and understand the plight of others.

I like to think I’m a compassionate person, able to empathize with others born into the wrong family or environment, and even those who just didn’t get as many breaks in life that I did, but it’s not always easy.

I also think sometimes about what it must be like for those living a life of privilege. That’s why the video featured here had such an impact on me, and I hope on you too. It directly relates to our political debates over healthcare and other social issues too. Read More …

Healthy, Safe, Accessible and Adaptable Homes

Healthy, Safe, Accessible and Adaptable Homes

The Real Estate section of The Washington Post featured an article that caught my eye and formed the basis of my post today. Builders imagine homes of the future — but some of their dreams are available today, by Michele Lerner, describes concepts that homebuilders are considering to make future homes healthier, safer, more accessible & adaptable, and more comfortable to live in & easier to run.

Ever thought about having a dedicated room with an operable opening on the top to accommodate drone deliveries? Or using a 3-D printer to supply hinges for your cabinets? Or imagined your home’s windows adjusting to light and seasons the way your photochromic glasses do: darkening slightly in the summer to reduce heat buildup and fading to black at night for privacy without shades? … Most of the trends expected to affect house designs address consumer’s concerns about healthier living, affordability and adaptability to future lifestyles.

Read More …

CBS picks 10 smart home products to help you age in place

Smart Home products that help you Age In Place

In this referenced article, CBS picks 10 smart home products to help you Age In Place. They represent the various types of product categories available, from voice activated home control to smart doorbells, thermostats, and medication reminders. They even include a smart refrigerator from Samsung that starts at about $3,500, but you can make your existing fridge smart for less than $40.

“Aging in place” is a hot topic these days — particularly among baby boomers who want to maintain their independence.

While flocking to smaller homes in warmer climates is still attractive for some seniors easing into their later years, more and more people are choosing to stay where they are. In fact, 85 percent of homeowners 55 and older aren’t planning to sell their homes in the next year, according to a 2017 survey from Realtor.com.

“Aging in place really is a concept based on where you’re living and your preference to staying, whatever you home of choice is,” said Laurie Orlov, tech industry veteran, eldercare advocate and founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch.

Not every home is set up to ease the transition into adults’ older years, when mobility can become a major issue. Declining hearing, sight and mental awareness can also affect how easy or safe it is to continue living independently in a person’s home of choice. But smart home technology brings a whole host of solutions to the table.

Scroll through the smart home products that CBS featured at https://www.cbsnews.com/media/10-smart-home-features-to-help-you-age-in-place/.

Technical and Human Evolution

Humans did a pretty good job to evolve this far, but big changes are ahead.

As I wrote in Moore’s Law and the Future of Healthcare,

“Futurists regularly consider alternative scenarios and look at factors that can steer the future in one direction or another. That way, clients can select a preferred version of the future and know what they might do to make that future happen.

It’s relatively easy to extrapolate past trends, assuming that nothing prevents those trends from continuing at the same rate, but will they? One can also look at what’s possible by tracking research lab activity and then estimating how long it will take to bring those new technologies to market.

But a potentially better approach is to start with a solid understanding of market NEEDS and what drives the development of solutions for them, or factors that inhibit solutions. Changes in politics and public policy, for example, can be a huge driver, with Obamacare as an example, or a huge inhibitor. That’s why I’m so interested in various healthcare reforms that accompany tech innovation.”

In the following video, see how future technologies could impact human longevity, Earth’s environment, and artificial intelligence. Read More …

A Public-Private Hybrid Healthcare System


American Healthcare is Going Public, and Private. (Click to read article)

I published this article back in 2012 but updated it now because Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham just introduced a bill they aim to ram through Congress without a CBO score or public hearings. Senator Bernie Sanders also has an Obamacare replacement. It’s a form of Medicare-for-All, and it’s gaining wide support among Democrats and the public.

GOOD NEWS UPDATE: Republicans failed to get enough votes to pass the Cassidy/Graham bill.

As founding editor of Modern Health Talk, I think both sides need to step back from partisanship, look at the big picture, consider all stakeholders, look to other advanced nations for inspiration, and combine the best properties of each into a public-private hybrid healthcare model.

Is Health Care a Right? — Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, wrote an amazing article for The New Yorker that asks a question that’s been dividing Americans. His interviews offer important new insights that were missing in the Republican push to repeal and replace the ACA without a single public hearing. Not only do we need to understand what other nations do, but we also need to understand the different perspectives of our own citizens. This amazing must-read article is a good companion to my own article on Single-Payer. Read More …

How will IBM Watson affect the Future of Healthcare?

Watson: a Healthcare Future with Artificial Intelligence? Does AI help doctors or replace them?

How will IBM Watson affect the Future of Healthcare? Will it replace physician functions or just be another tool for them?

IBM made healthcare news when it directed its Watson supercomputer and artificial intelligence (AI) research to target a high-profile target: CANCER. But it seems that many in the medical industry lack the imagination needed to envision the potential that Watson offers. That’s why I’m writing today.

I was disappointed by a Business Insider article, Doctors say IBM Watson is nowhere close to being the revolution in cancer treatment it was pitched to them as. It appeared overly critical and caused me to respond this way: Read More …

Tissue Nanotransfection can Heal Organs with a Touch

Tissue Nanotransfection can Heal Organs with a Touch

According to this article at MedicalXpress.com

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering have developed a new technology, Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), that can generate any cell type of interest for treatment within the patient’s own body. This technology may be used to repair injured tissue or restore function of aging tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells. Read More …

The Medical Cartel is Keeping Health Care Costs High

Watch "The Big Heist," a satyrical documentary about our broken healthcare systemBy Travis Klavohn and Dr. Laura Williams

In 2010, the small town of Collegedale, Tennessee had the dubious distinction of having the highest prevalence of Type II Diabetes in the world. Without a single endocrinologist in the small town, those suffering from this preventable and treatable form of the disease were unable to gain access to the treatment they needed.

Dealing with this issue firsthand, a local employer who operates a donut manufacturing plant decided to dedicate a portion of his warehouse to be used as a health clinic. By hiring an endocrinologist from Chattanooga to travel to his warehouse a few days a week, his employees were finally able to receive the help they so desperately needed. Read More …

Smart Home Technologies For Mature Homeowners

2016 research by The Hartford and The MIT AgeLab revealed their Top 10 Smart Home Technologies For Mature Homeowners (press release below).

They conducted joint research to better understand which smart home technologies may benefit homeowners over the age of 50 and get their perspectives on smart home technology. This research involved an extensive review of new smart home technologies by leading experts in housing, aging, and technology and an online survey of homeowners.

Top 10 Smart Home Technologies

Smart home technologies that may make life easier, help with home
maintenance, and enhance safety and security for homeowners 50+.

Top 10 Smart Home Technologies
Read More …